How to Write Books That Readers Love
When writing a book you want others to read and enjoy, you must consider what the reader wants. As much as it’s your book and your story to tell, there are universal things that are generally more liked and accepted than others. While you’re more than welcome to go against the grain and try new and questionable things, it’s far more risky than keeping in mind the things that readers like the most.
These things don’t need to restrict your writing or hinder your creativity. Rather, they can inspire it and help you craft a story that readers will undoubtedly fall in love with.
This may seem counterintuitive to the pursuit of originality, but readers appreciate, love, and to some degree, expect a level of predictability. This doesn’t mean they want the same story over and over again. It means that your story should follow the “rules” and structures of your chosen genre and style.
If a reader picks up a novel that’s advertised as a romance but it’s filled with action and suspense and only a small portion of romance, they’ll feel deceived. You should respect the genre you’ve placed your story in. If things change as you’re writing, you can change your genre or at least the subgenre.
Some genres contain a looser structure than others, but there is always a formula. For example, the romance formula is perhaps the most rigid. Readers expect the story to follow the “boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl back” structure. There are endless things you can do within this structure to engage readers in an original way, but the basic skeleton must be followed.
Romance readers will also demand a happy ending. It doesn’t matter how much tragedy and trauma you throw at the couple, they must be together in the end. If they’re not, some readers won’t even consider it a true romance.
Use these creative writing prompts for adults to find some inspiration and decide what genre your ideas fit into.
Even in the craziest, most “out there” fantasy stories, there needs to be believability. This includes characters and the world itself.
If you’ve created a brand new world, ensure that the physical, magical, and economical rules and climates you’ve decided on are followed consistently. If they’re not, readers will notice the contradictions and lose interest in no time. This can be the most difficult part of writing fantasy. If you’re struggling, try these fantasy writing prompts for ideas and inspiration.
You also need to create relatable characters. They need to be human. This means they must have a fully developed, fleshed-out personality with both positive and negative qualities. They must have flaws and imperfections, bad habits, and pet peeves.
Suspense is often associated with action and thriller. It’s true that suspense is prevalent in these types of books, but that doesn’t mean it has no place elsewhere. Just because the suspense isn’t the core of a story doesn’t mean it’s not useful.
Suspense builds intrigue, anticipation, and interest. It will have readers turning pages late into the night because they can’t stand not knowing.
Use these tips to build small amounts of suspense into any genre and effectively keep your reader on their toes:
- Use dramatic irony. Give the reader a glimpse of the antagonist and their plans/intentions/current situation.
- Use time. Pit the protagonist against the clock and make it seem as though the dwindling time is working in favor of the antagonist.
- Raise the stakes. Keep the stakes high and always make them higher, no matter what you’re writing. The higher the stakes, the more intense the anticipation. Readers will become more invested as more it put at risk.
- Create obstacles. Just when things appear to be in reach, rip them away again. If your reader cares about your protagonist, they will keep reading to ensure they get what they’re after.
These are just a few ways that suspense can be added to any story. Keep your genre in mind and create appropriate situations. For example, an “obstacle” can be anything from murder in your thriller, to a character moving away or getting a new job in your romance. Suspense doesn’t have to keep dark, devastating, or scary. It just needs to keep the reader hooked.
Even in the most horrifying of horror stories, comic relief is well-liked and often appreciated. Stories in genres like horror, thriller, action, or tragedy have a high level of intensity and emotion. As important as these things are, you can’t bog your readers down with them.
A quick release of tension and diverting of attention will give your reader a break from the anxiety. They can have a laugh and a breather before the action picks back up again.
In a darker story, it can be a crass or witty one-liner or sarcastic joke. It doesn’t have to last more than a few lines – just enough to give the reader a quick chuckle before getting them back on track.
Keep the Reader in Mind
These are a few of the key things to consider when writing a book you wish to share with the masses. You must find a balance between telling your story and creating something that appeals to readers.
Your story won’t have the impact you want it to if no one reads it. Strive to create something original while respecting your genre. Create something magical but believable at the same time, and raise the stake enough to keep your reader invested and interested.